What is the psychoanalytic theory of criminology?

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There is no one overarching theory of criminology which is endorsed by all psychoanalysts. After all, the practice of psychoanalysis is based on a variety of different schools of thought—Freudian, Jungian, Lacanian, etc.—that, in many cases, arrive at mutually exclusive conclusions. Having said that, it's possible to identify some common assumptions operating across the various theories.

For one thing, psychoanalysts tend to see crime as being related to subconscious drives buried deep within the human psyche. More often than not, those drives have been brought to the surface by environmental factors such as extreme poverty and parental neglect.

In a normal, healthy upbringing, selfish drives will be sublimated—that is to say, channeled into creative activities. But where children are brought up amidst poverty, chaos, and disorder, there will be nothing to stop those destructive drives from coming to the surface and subsequently being unleashed on society.

In all schools of...

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